Efficacy of tablet-based applications for mental training in preserving cognitive abilities of older adults
Background and aims: Nonpathological, age-related cognitive decline is among the most feared consequences of aging. Evidence suggests that the continued use of mental abilities can slow down cognitive decline. We developed two tablet-based applications for the mental training (ElasticaMente) and social interaction/entertainment (iNonni) of older adults. The aim of this study was to evaluate their effect on cognitive performance.
Materials and methods: This was an exploratory study of 8 months duration. Sixty healthy residents of a senior community center aged ≥60 years were recruited and divided into three groups: participants in Groups 1 and 2 received a tablet with ElasticaMente and iNonni (Group 1, n = 20) or with iNonni only (Group 2, n = 20); participants in Group 3 (n = 20) did not receive any tablet. Participants in Groups 1 and 2 were instructed to use the applications three times a week (each session ~45 minutes). Cognitive performance was assessed at baseline (T0) and after 8 months (T1) using a battery of six validated tests.
Results: In Group 1, cognitive test scores remained consistently stable from T0 to T1, suggesting maintenance of cognitive abilities. In contrast, in Groups 2 and 3, scores worsened from T0 to T1 across all tests. Comparison of the changes from T0 to T1 revealed statistical significance for Group 1 versus Group 3, but not for Group 1 versus Group 2 and Group 2 versus Group 3.
Conclusion: The 8 months use of the applications ElasticaMente and iNonni was associated with a significant benefit in terms of preserved cognitive performance compared with no tablet-based activity. The potential contribution of ElasticaMente to the attenuation of cognitive decline should be further investigated. (Digital Health)
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